New York City

Woman Overcomes Rare Condition, Runs NYC Marathon Backwards: Report

A San Diego woman who thought she’d never run again completed the New York City Marathon on Sunday — backwards.

Justine Galloway has a rare condition called runner’s dystonia that causes her brain to activate not only the muscles needed for running, but surrounding muscles too. This muscle control problem causes people with the condition to have an awkward posture and stumbling gait while running, according to Runner’s World.

“I started running funny, like my left leg just started not listening to my brain,” Galloway told Runner’s World. “It just wouldn’t turn, wouldn’t do what it had done for the past 30 years.”

Unfortunately for Galloway, she’d been actively running, including competitively, since she was 3 years old. But while researching the condition, she discovered a way to trick her brain: running in reverse.

She began preparing for the New York City Marathon, running backwards twice a week, sometimes up to 21 miles. She also biked, swam and did cross-training every other day, Runner’s World reported.

On Sunday, a guide who helps visually impaired runners supported her as she completed the 26.2 miles of the New York City Marathon in a time of 6:06:51.

“I didn’t even fall once, though there were a few close calls” she told Runner's World. 

Cameras captured a special moment between Galloway and actor Michael J. Fox. The two shared a hug around mile 23. Galloway previously raised more than $5,000 for Parkinson's disease research through Fox's foundation Team Fox. 

Galloway said she’s not sure if she’ll run another marathon in reverse. She said completing the marathon has helped bring her added peace with her diagnosis.

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